PEI

QEH Foundation raising money to perform retina surgery on P.E.I.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation is hoping to make life a little bit easier for Islanders diagnosed with a detached retina.

Equipment needed costs $310,000

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation is raising funds this year for equipment to perform sight-saving surgeries on P.E.I. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation is hoping to make life a little bit easier for Islanders diagnosed with a detached retina.

Rosemary Herbert has had to make a trip off Island, to Halifax, three times for detached retina surgeries.

"You have to get there as quickly as you can and there is a lot of stress associated with that," she said.

Depending on the time of year it isn't just the surgery to worry about.

"You're worried about the weather, the driving conditions," she said. "Trying to hold your head in a certain position so you don't make your detachment any worse."

It is a "frightening" experience, Herbert said.

"I was well aware of the fact I could lose my sight."

She said It would have been much easier to have the surgery on Island at the QEH — and that could soon be a reality.

Rosemary Herbert with her grandchildren Noah, Theo, and Lyla. (The QEH Foundation)

Now, the QEH Foundation is raising funds for equipment to perform sight-saving surgeries on P.E.I.

Three new pieces of equipment are required including a vitrectomy machine to remove vitreous in a controlled environment, a cryotherapy machine to freeze retinas and induce healing and a visualizing system which allows for a clear visualization of the retina during an operation.

The equipment would cost about $310,000.

"It is priceless to keep your eyesight," said Dr. Ibrahim Elaraoud, an ophthalmologist at the QEH.

He is trained to perform the surgery to reattach the retina. He saw a couple of patients who had lost their sight because they didn't have someone who could take them off Island. 

Typically a detached retina needs to be treated in 24 hours, Elaraound said.

"Since I was trained in doing this important surgery I actually reached out to the QEH Foundation and asked if it is possible for us to acquire this equipment that will help us save sight for patients on the Island," he said.

Dr. Ibrahim Elaraoud, an ophthalmologist at the QEH says the ability to treat retinal detachment on P.E.I. is important because if people do not get quick attention they could lost their sight. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

Elaraoud said there are a number of reasons why doing the surgery on P.E.I. makes economic sense. 
        
"Patients who have to travel... they have to spend money either out of their own pocket or they might seek help from the province to support them," he said. 

"We're paying a premium to take these patients outside the province so the money is coming out of the community. But more importantly, it's importantly needed because if the patient, God forbid, because of delay or lack of attention they lost their vision, you can't count that for money."

Donations for the equipment can be made online through the QEH Foundation website.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning.

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